Your wedding day is one of the most exciting days of your life, but for many it can also be the most daunting. Instinctively knowing everything that needs to be arranged, for something you have never done before, is a rather tall order. Therefore knowing where to start can be tricky. Most brides will immediately think of the ideal venue and dream wedding dress, but there are a few things that need to be considered prior to this. Having this information to hand will save you stress at a later date and ensure your wedding planning process runs smoothly, on time and very importantly to budget!
1. First things first, make a list of everyone you would like to invite to your special day (remembering to check with both of your families). Then revisit it and decide if it is an acceptable number to you all. It is worth bearing in mind that the larger the venue you need, the fewer options there will be available to you and naturally your budget will increase.
2. The wedding party. Decide who the best man, maid of honour, bridesmaids and ushers will be and ask them.
3. The budget. This can be a sensitive subject but it must be considered so that you can establish what your limits will be. If you are managing your wedding yourself, make a comprehensive list of every item that will cost you so you can work out what you want to prioritise. If you have a wedding planner, they will do this for you and make sure nothing is forgotten whilst helping you stay within budget!
4. Choosing the date. Things to consider: season and weather, bridal party availability, religious limitations, ideal honeymoon location, day of the week (weekdays are usually more cost effective).
5. Wedding insurance. This is something that many people do not consider and it is extremely important. The sooner you can get cover the better, as your policy can cover eventualities such as losing the wedding rings, damage to the bridal gown and venue double bookings. Find out exactly what your policy covers and try to get recommendations from friends.
6. Contact a wedding planner for either full management or for certain aspects or just consultancy to go through a detailed plan of action and provide advice. It is worth knowing that planners have many contacts and can usually negotiate better rates than if you go direct.
7. The service. Consider if it will be religious or civil and if you would like everything to be held in the same venue, or for example a church plus reception venue.
8. The venue. If you wish to have the ceremony and reception in one venue, find out if they have a wedding license. Things to consider: cost, capacities, number of rooms, space for dancing, late license if required, music license and time restrictions. For separate venues also consider distance between the two.
9. Suppliers. Work out if the venue will provide the suppliers – florists, caterers and decorations. Some will insist on using theirs, others will be more flexible. This is important if you have a local florist or caterer you wish to use. A wedding planner will also be able to advise if their suppliers are costly or not – you do not want to get a great venue rate only to find your suppliers cost an arm and a leg!
10. Time line. Most people spend on average one year planning a wedding. This is because of the planning involved and also to get venue availability – believe it or not, popular venues can be booked up well over a year in advance! Think about how long each item takes to organise and prioritise accordingly.
There are many elements to planning a wedding, but hopefully you will find these top tips useful to get you started. Working with a wedding planner will not only mean you have a professional to guide you and often negotiate better rates, but will also save you time and give you that much needed support. Good luck!